It’s hard when you think about it, how fast they grow and how *differently* from how you might expect. Morgan is already three months – and yesterday I put away the first lot of little clothes that she’ll never wear again. A sign and a symbol of mourning for her babyhood, day by day stolen from us. And what is given back in its place?
Jenna is going to be three this year, oh so soon, and the twos haven’t been terrible at all. But somehow I had this picture in my head, that she’d be a baby for a couple of years, and then a toddler until she was nearly four, and then a pre-schooler, a *child*. But she has always been a child, and she’s always going to be my baby. Even asides from the emotional aspect of how I see her, she has different needs to those I was led to expect! She is, in some ways, so much a baby still – and she still needs me.
That’s the thing. Even with a chart in front of you of normal development, even if you could have a chart SPECIFIC to your own child’s pace, it wouldn’t tell you the whole story. The emotional importance to a child of each new ability, and the way in which they actually acquire those skills, one step at a time. No, now even “step” is the wrong word. It’s faster and more gradual than that. Blink and you’ll miss it. Every fraction of a second their brains are putting some other piece in place.
So I have two babies, and I also have none. I certainly don’t have what I expected. And so my expectations change and I become… I don’t know. The person who forbids whining in the house and demands that my tiny fragile two year old uses proper words to tell me what’s the matter (even when she’s really sick) but also the person who buys juice for the toddler who has just had a tantrum because they want juice. TUT giving in to tantrums – I NEVER pictured myself as that mum, but now… Well I know she can’t help being thirsty and isn’t doing it to be a nuisance, and I’m more likely to blame myself for not getting her something before she started throwing herself on the floor in tears. ;)
It is, perhaps, the feeling that the phrase “bittersweet” was invented for. The farewell to the present that you can’t keep, in exchange for the future that you can’t predict. But I’m starting to be a little more ready for the journey. I think.